Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Digital cameras– which one’s for you?

I have been receiving e-mails here at Tech–for Everyone that have been regarding my recent article about the fella who went traveling, and for the first time left his 35mm gear at home. (He only carried a digital camera.)

These e-mails have been asking me which digital camera it was. The reason they wrote is, they want to buy the same one. I had very carefully avoided naming a specific make or model of digital camera, as (believe it or not) I am not in the business of promoting sales.

But I understand perfectly why people want some advice when it comes to buying a digital camera. There is a whole gaggle of them to choose from– an overwhelming variety.. and when you start shopping, it’s easy to become confused by the jargon.
A “mega” pixel is better than an ordinary, everyday “pixel”.. right? (You bet it is. It contains more vitamins and minerals.)

A long, long, time ago I wrote a three-part advice series on buying a new computer, and today I am going to reiterate a bit of advice from there– when buying a digital camera, you have to hold it in your hands. The “right” camera for you will just, well, “feel right”. If you keep accidentally pushing a button, or put your thumb right on the viewer screen.. that’s not good.

Tip of the day: General advice for purchasing a new digital camera.

* Optical zoom is better than digital zoom. Make sure that the “zoom” feature of your camera is handled by a moving lens. Digital zooming is okay in very small amounts, but the way it works will cause funny-looking “pixilation” when really put to work.
* You want image stabilization. Image stabilization is in my opinion simply a “must have”; fortunately, almost every manufacturer provides it. I won’t spend time, here, describing the different types. If you’re curious, click the link.
* The Megapixel. Folks, there is a lot of confusion regarding the camera jargon word “megapixel”. A higher megapixel number does not necessarily equate with “sharper image” or “clearer picture“.. in fact, they usually have nothing to do with each other.
Megapixels refers to the image (data) size and determines how big an enlargement you can make before you start to experience distortions (think of it as being a bit like film sizes). If the largest prints you ever make are 5 x 7, a three-to-four Megapixel camera is all you need. A 10 Megapixel camera is overkill for the vast majority of uses, and it will simply fill your memory card faster, with fewer shots. (But, you can make poster-size prints.)
* LCD “viewfinder”. I think it is important to have a manual viewfinder, as well as the LCD screen.. but that is personal opinion. In terms of LCD, the two factors to consider are placement and size. It should be big enough that you can see what it is showing when you hold the camera away from your body, and, it should be positioned on the camera in such a way as to not cause you to hold your hand in a funny/odd way so that you can see it.
* And I’d like to repeat, your camera should just feel right in your hand.
* Don’t buy features you won’t use. If you are not a photography buff, and don’t want to memorize a 200-page owners manual, then you don’t want to buy a D-SLR; you want a “point-and-shoot”, (You won’t impress anybody with it anyway) and you don’t need 24 “settings” if you’re only going to use one. Right? Right.

Today’s free link: If you are like the fella I mentioned in the original articles, and like to read reviews and technical specs, or if you just want more information about digital photography (maybe it’s your hobby), check out http://www.pcphotomag.com/.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 12, 2008 - Posted by | advice, Digital camera, Digital Images, how to, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Hey Paul,

    Terrific advice. If consumers listened to all the hype, there is no doubt they would be paying for supposed features they would never use. How many consumers need to print out a 36×36 inch image?

    For $75, I bought a 5 Megapixel camera that prints up to 18×24 inches, has 24 shooting modes, will record video and audio, and with an $8 1Gb card holds over 1,800 pics at 1 MB resolution which look great on a monitor.

    There’s no need to spend a ton of $ for a typical consumer to get a camera that far exceeds their needs.

    BM

    Like

    Comment by Bill Mullins | May 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. Bill–
    I don’t know that many folks who print 18 x 24..!
    (The “standard” print size is 4 x 6, and a “suitable for framing” print is 8 x 10.)

    $75, eh? Sounds pretty good.

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | May 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. Hi. I like your blog so I forwarded this chain about the Excellent Blog Award. Now if you want you should pass this to five other blogs.

    Like

    Comment by mividaendigital | May 12, 2008 | Reply


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